Missouri Western Sees Improvement in Admission Numbers and Numbers Go Down In Housing Numbers

While the number of students living on campus has gone down, it currently looks as though overall admissions numbers will be slightly up over last year. Director of Residential Life Nathan Roberts believes that the lower housing numbers are normal for this time of year. "Well, right now we are hovering around 1100, which is down from the fall semester, but that's pretty normal for any university," Roberts said. Roberts explained that the majority of students graduate high school in May and then come as traditional students in the fall, so Western sees lower enrollment numbers in the spring semester. However, the campus is seeing overall growth, which has led to more dorms. "The population on campus has been increasing. Scanlon and Griffon added about 650 beds total and at that point, I think that they used to load Logan and Beshears with 8 students per room and then they went down to private," Roberts said. This housing number is only an estimation as the semester has only just begun. The actual data will not be available until a later time, but the numbers are looking good for the future housing enrollment at Missouri Western. The admissions numbers seem to be going up as more people are encouraged to go back to school and get their degree. However, many students have their own reasons to enroll at Western. "I thought about going to something better, like UMKC, but because it is so far away, it's cheaper to come here," sophomore Jeron Rogers said. Associate Dean of Enrollment Management and Director of Admissions Tyson Schank explains that admission numbers have seen improvements. "The best I can tell you right now is the first-time students we brought in for the spring and right now, for first-time freshman, we are up one percent. For transfer students, we are up about five percent from transfers coming to us from two year schools and down nine percent of transfer students coming from other four years. We are up seven percent in our graduate enrollment. The estimated number is not finalized until census date is due. For retention re-enrollment, it is up by one percent," Schank said. While the housing and admission numbers are not official until after the official census, it appears as though Western is continuing to grow.  

Western lights up to kick off winter

Western Activities Council hosted its annual Light Up Western event on Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. in the Fulkerson Center. The night was full of different activities, including "iceless" ice skating, pictures with Santa, cookie decorating and free prizes for students in attendance. Western students and community members alike enjoyed the festivities in Fulkerson to kick off the holiday season and to relieve stress during the last week of classes. Charles Flemons, director of comedy for WAC, said he thinks the event is a good time for students. "It gets you ready for Christmas, which is like the happiest time of the year, or at least its supposed to be," Flemons said. "What better way to kick off Christmas and blow off some stress before finals then eating cookies and hanging out with Santa Claus." SGA Vice President of WAC Julia Buescher said she's glad WAC can host such broad events. "Events like this focus on the whole campus so anybody can come to it," she said. "We have people from the community here, so it's just a wide range of people that can come to the event, which I think is a success no matter how many people show up." Buescher also encouraged students to be involved in WAC. "Any student has a say in Western Activities Council," she said. "We are constantly voting on things, and anybody can bring a different idea to the table. I encourage students to come to our meetings so that way they have a say. It's not a dictatorship - it's a democracy." Flemons said students should look for more events throughout the semester hosted by WAC, not just around the holidays. "Come to all WAC events; we throw them for you," Flemons said. Tony Dougherty, previous vice president of WAC, said he enjoyed the cookies, hot chocolate and the overall atmosphere of the event. "Everyone loves Christmastime and the holidays and this just gets you pumped up even more," he said. "The whole indoor ice skating was something we brought in last year and I'm really glad they've continued to do it because people really enjoy it." Along with Dougherty, Matthew Steinlage, junior, was in attendance at Light Up Western and spent a lot of time in the "skating rink." He said he thinks the event was a good example of what WAC does all year. "Western Activities Council does a really good job offering events and other things for students to do to have fun," Steinlage said. Jacob Teasley, junior and resident assistant in Scanlon hall was also in attendance. "Light Up Western is awesome, I've had a really good time," Teasley said. "I loved ice skating and sitting on Santa's lap, that was fun." Along with having fun, Teasley said he was excited to have received the free prize of text-enabled gloves embroidered with the Griffon logo. Dougherty said that attending events like this is a great way to relieve stress from finals and the last week of classes. "This last week of classes is probably just as rough as finals week, so just being able to take a second, come out and have a good time, is definitely good for the students," he said. For more information about Western Activities Council or other events, visit missouriwestern.edu/wac.

Housing situation, better than before

Missouri Western faces one of the highest numbers of students living on campus in its history with 1,306 residents. At the beginning of the semester, housing was so full that students were put on a waiting list for a place in one of the residence halls. According to Nathan Roberts, director of residential life, this issue was resolved thanks to the usual amount of no-shows. "When we opened, we had a little bit of an overage in occupancy and we had our late applicant students doubled up in some of the spaces we normally sell as singles. [The no-shows] put us in a position of relocating those folks into the vacancies we figured we'd probably have," Roberts said. Among the reasons for people not showing up or leaving after the beginning of the semester are offers from other schools, family tragedies and financial problems. "Right now, we have about a dozen vacancies around campus, taking into account the places we normally have as singles are singles now," Roberts said. "We moved the last of those folks within the last week, so we should have accommodated everybody who was in a double over into a single." There are several ways to deal with the expected rise in enrollment numbers in the future. For one, the campus master planners are assessing the possibility of a new residence hall. Kenzie Brooks, resident assistant in Leaverton Hall, welcomes the idea of a new residence hall. "A new residence hall would be good - especially married housing. I think people would really appreciate if they could live together with their spouse. My husband is an RA, too, so I know I would," Brooks said. Another option would be to change the requirements of living on campus. "Our core mission is to support freshmen and first-time students that are full-time students and live outside that 50 mile radius being required to live on campus. Those are the folks that are required to live on campus for one year," Roberts said. "Currently, we allow students that are taking nine credit hours, so not full-time students, to live on campus. We could look at adjusting requirements such as that to see how that would impact the occupancy to make sure we have plenty of space for those first-time freshmen, our ultimate mission." However, permanent double-occupancy in previously single rooms is not a preferable option to Roberts. "I don't think it's the best idea to double up eight people in a suite over here in Juda or Logan. Possibly what you could look into in the case of shortage is to set up rooms so occupancy is six," Roberts said. Feedback from students living in double-occupancies was very distinct. "The feedback definitely was that students like to have these spaces as one person per room," Roberts said. A restriction for returning students would be a less preferable possibility, too. "I don't really like to get into this at this point when we aren't sure that we're going to have volumes of new freshmen that would bump those students out, because that's unfair to the returning students. But, that is something that I have seen that other universities have done," Roberts said. Neil Ross, residence hall director of both Leaverton and Vaselakos Halls, is content overall with the living situation on campus. "It's to the point that we're doing what we can with what we have," Ross said. "We always want to look towards the future, we always want to support the students here at Missouri Western. So, with that master plan committee, we're being able to sit down with them and determine the needs of the students and the direction of our university as a whole. In order to gain that direction, we need to grow."          

Fraternities receive fall pledges

In previous years in the Interfraternity Council, there was a limit for the amount of new members each fraternity could receive. This cap has recently been removed, leaving each social fraternity with an equal opportunity to gain as many members as they find necessary. The three social fraternities that went through recruitment week are Phi Delta Theta, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and Phi Sigma Kappa. These fraternities added 22, 21 and two new members respectively. Before the recent rush week, the Phi Delts doubled the other two fraternities in numbers. During rush week, after the informational night held on Monday, the pledges attended activities for the fraternity of their choosing. As Tony Dougherty, recruitment chair of Phi Delta Theta, said, it was the specific fraternity’s job to excite the pledges and want them to join. If the fraternity does not put in a valiant effort to gain more members, it is likely that they won’t. Dougherty spoke about the the cap removal’s effect on recruitment. “You either sink or swim,” Dougherty said. “It just depends on how much work you put in it; that’s how much you’re going to get out of it.” On Friday, the potential new members went through an interview process. They were then given the chance to submit a bid to the IFC stating what fraternities they were interested in. Each fraternity also placed bids for the potential members that they believed fit into the organization. Bid day was held on Saturday, and, according to Dillon Williams, president of the IFC, the three fraternities added a total of 45 new members. Tanner Catlett, president of Phi Sigma Kappa, was also positive about the removal of the cap. “It allowed more people to try without being worried,” Catlett said. According to Catlett, the cap removal was a reminder to all potential members that anyone could be recruited. Catlett also said that the fraternities were focused on “quantity over quality,” meaning they were intent on recruiting as many members as possible. After the final numbers of recruitment were released, Catlett claimed that due to Phi Sig being a small fraternity, the lack of the cap did not affect them as much. Yet he has plans to advertise more and have at least 25 members by the end of the year.

Western’s car charging stations are go

Missouri Western is set to get a couple of electric car charging stations in the future for students and professors to utilize. KCP&L, the electric utility company, had a micro-grant program for green initiatives, receiving 135 applications. Seventeen were awarded, with Missouri Western receiving the maximum award, $3,000. Dr. Brian Cronk was the professor who ended up writing the grant for the charging stations. Sure enough, he’s also the owner of an electric car. “Three thousand dollars will, by itself, pay for one station,” Cronk said. “And I’d like to put in a second station for the students who live in the residence halls, because, that way, it can be used as a marketing tool and a convenience for students who have electric cars, which may be nobody right now.” Cronk went on to explain how, though there may not be too many electric car owners at the moment, he expects that number to increase as time goes on. “Look at almost every manufacturer, and they’re going to have something electric within a year or two,” Cronk said. “So, what I was thinking, is that we get ahead of the curve.” According to the Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, California currently has the most electric car charging stations. However, states like Texas and Washington are also producing more charging stations. Cronk also explained how the stations will be paid for regarding the electricity output. “There is a donor through the foundation who’s willing to pay for the electricity, at least for a while, until we figure out exactly how much it’s costing us,” Cronk said. “I have contacted some senators in SGA to see if SGA would like to fund the one by the residence halls, and I haven’t gotten a response yet. They are looking into it.” Absolute locations for these stations have yet to be finalized, but Cronk is hopeful that they will be finished soon. “We were told by KCP&L that we’d be getting this grant, but we haven’t heard anything else from them yet,” Cronk said. “I would guess this fall or certainly within this year they’ll be installed, but I honestly don’t know when.”